Vitamin S

Sooner or later, you’ll find your breaking point. 
chief

I went to Squamish for this.  I still got to witness that.  I even got to spend a day with good friends in Vancouver.  I didn’t get injured, I didn’t lose anything or miss a flight.  All in all, it was a success.   Except I didn’t run 50 miles.

Two weeks before the race,  I had a great time at Speedgoat; you know, the race I ran and said I’d never do again, then proceeded to run twice more.  Then I went to Starlight and had a good easy recovering week.  I came home with a bit of a sinus headache and proceeded to not sleep very much the whole week.  I debated canceling the trip; all I wanted to do was sleep in and have a nice day at home in the mountains.  I went anyways, figuring it would help me relax.  Due to a room debacle, I, and several other people, were without rooms that had been booked.  I found a couch to sleep on… at midnight.  I was up at 3:45 in the morning.  Again, not much sleep.  I had always been told to get my “Vitamin S” when I was sick.  Apparently you need it for real life too.

Amazingly awake at the start of the race, I decided to go for it.  I ran the first 6 miles, pretty fast, 49 minutes, watching the sunrise, enjoying the momentum; but I was tired, aching, my body was begging for sleep.  Mile 8, we hit single track.  It was fantastic; you can see pictures here.  I kept moving.  By Mile 10 I was done.  My muscles hurt.  My bones hurt.  My joints hurt.  My body hurt.  I kept moving.  Just to get a little more trail time.  My body started to feel like it was actively breaking down.  I kept running, at a decent clip, but I felt like I was doing too much damage.  I was done.  I dropped at Mile 17.  Then I took a 5 hour nap.

Inside, you always know it, but you ignore it.  I came off running a new PR at Speedgoat, felt well trained and that I had faith in the miles.  But I didn’t take care of myself off the trails.  Sometimes you need some Vitamin S. I started that race 6 feet deep in a hole, that I was never climbing out of.  Life happens, all in all it wasn’t a bad weekend.

Song Pairing

I really like how the Adulting blog does song and chore pairings to make things like cleaning less awful, and I think this is an idea that can be applied to many things in life. So, for your listening pleasure, today’s song + unpleasant task pairing is Terrible Visit to the Orthopedic Surgeon + P.O.S. – Get Down.

Guilty Pleasures

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Supposedly, I’m training for a half ironman. What possessed me to do this after not having done a triathlon in something like 5 years, I have no idea. But, 19 days from now, I will be lining up at the Boulder Reservoir to do this thing. This race plays to none of my strengths: the swim is in a nice, calm, warm lake, the (road) bike course is flat with views of Kansas, and the run is extremely flat, hot, and sunny (but thankfully on dirt). I think the reason I haven’t been motivated to write anything in this blog lately is because training for this race has been so… civilized. I go swim laps in the pool, and ride around on bike paths, and run the flattest, most boring places I can find. Part of this is to train myself not just for the physical aspect of the race, but for the mental aspects. Specifically, the boredom. Don’t get me wrong- I am absolutely looking forward to the race and enjoying the training immensely. But I realize that after maybe 5 or 6 or 7 hours of monotony, I will need to mental fortitude to keep going, and so I am trying to force myself to seek that out in training, too.

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Not that I’ve been doing a good job of that. I have this training program that I am supposedly following, and every day or couple of days I look and see what I should be doing, and then most of the time I go do something else. I decided early on that I can only handle two swims per week before going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth would drive me crazy. The program initially called for 3/week and now and absolutely insane 4/week. But, with the running and biking, I should be able to do it. That’s why, whenever I find myself mountain biking or running up some steep, rocky trail, I feel like I am cheating. It’s like I’m on the Atkins diet, and the trails are a giant loaf of bread calling to me. I give in a lot, but knowing that I should be running some flat trail in Denver when I’m actually looking out over a 13,000 ft pass makes it just that much more enjoyable.

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For example, last weekend I was supposed to ride 50 miles and run 12. So of course, I mountain biked 8.5 mi (seriously) and ran up Chimney Gulch (7 mi, 1600 ft of gain). Because there were sunflowers and I didn’t want to have to drive to somewhere flat and anyway, Kristin had to go adopt a puppy, so she couldn’t spend all day on a bike. And I had to take a nap and then go play with her new puppy. The way I justify this to myself is that the race I’m “training” for is only one day, and the training is my whole summer. Now which one seems more important?

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So of course, when Kristin and Darren invited us to spend the 4th of July weekend in Buena Vista, I was like hell yeah, screw the training program, let’s go play in the mountains. Hiking is totally the same as swimming, biking, and running. Bushwhacking to some unnamed passes and peaks and hiking up to alpine lakes with my friends and dogs is good for the soul, if not good for the prospects of me finishing a race in 19 days. And as long as I spend approximately the right number of hours exercising, it’s all the same… right?

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And hot yoga followed by a trail run counts as a brick, right? It feels like getting hit by a brick, so it must be good. Today, I went trail running at White Ranch, which is not exactly flat and not exactly smooth, for 6 miles. Which in my mind counts for my 8 mile run this week, since it takes about the same amount of time. Plus, it was good heat training because I went at 3PM and choose White Ranch because it’s sunny and exposed, which I need to get used to for the race. But then I decided I should probably try not to kill Boris (and I can’t possibly go running without a dog), so I chose the trail listed as “shady, with views of Denver” on the way up- knowing that’s an oxymoron, and choosing to believe the “shady” part for Boris’s sake even though part of my brain knew nothing on the east side of White Ranch is shady. Indeed, it was more on the “views of Denver” side of things, but Boris didn’t get heatstroke, and we didn’t see any rattlesnakes, and it was good heat training, I guess. But mostly it was steep and rocky and loose, and only mildly runnable, and tons of fun. We’ll see how the half ironman goes, but for now, I’m savoring the guilty pleasures.

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Adventure Running Season in Utah

AF Canyon and view of the Timp

It’s spring and the snow has been melting away in these parts which means there is tons of opportunity to end up with a small epic adventure day (or a big one…).  Since it was a three day weekend and we have one more day to squeeze in the ridiculous amount of painting that took place, I convinced B to give up house work for the morning so we could venture outside of our usual circle and go for an adventure run down in American Fork Canyon.  I was tempted by some facespace photos people had been posting of the Ridge Trail on the Wasatch 100 course and the views did not disappoint.  After a small effort to get up towards Mill Canyon, we changed our minds and headed away from the dirt bikers and picked out a route to go loop around Box Elder Peak.

Possibly by being over ambitious, and potentially by not looking at the map and the peak in front of us that carefully, we decided to bite off more than we could chew, with the outline in blue being the intended loop with a smaller “bailout” option from the top of the ridge. It was Sunday, we had all day to do our 3 hour run, and it was beautiful, so off we went!A lot of steep, steep, steep and some of my whining about the steepness later, we found some snow and Tele was in heaven!  I took a chance to catch my breath while we had some scenic stretching; when I run with B I am perpetually behind.  With his leg length, even power hiking is twice my speed, I have no chance of keeping up.

Snow! Mom there’s snow!

Taking in the views!

Re-learning how to run (and breathe) at 9600′

And up, up, up we went to the ridge line above.

It’s mighty fine up here

To the saddle looking out towards the Pfeifferhorn.

IMG_4294And views to the south looking on Box Elder Peak and the Timp (and our heads perfectly blocking the view).

From there on out, it was a sloooooooow go.  Post-holing through snowfields along the ridge, looking at time (90 min for what we thought was less than 3 miles) and our water supply and the puppy, and the snow; we decided to cut the loop short to the bail out loop and cut across into White Canyon.  From afar, we thought we saw the trail cut out clearly, but when we got closer, we ended up sinking and post-holing across what may have been  no more than half a mile of snow.  After losing the trail several times and some serious debate about following the drainage out versus trying to find the trail through the trees, Tele  pulled the plug for us.  Turns out mountain dog is a scared mountain dog and wanted nothing to do with scrambling down loose rock; she kept climbing upwards and, thankfully in hindsight, we reversed route and called it a day.  Funny thing about human nature is, that even though we spent 2 hours fighting through snow, figuring out how bad of an idea it was to try and short cut down, most of the way fighting back to the trail down, we were still looking for short cuts.  

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Our route and eventual scratch point in pink, it looks like we made it really far…

IMG_4266Turns out, we had a whole lot further to go.  Ah well, at least the view is pretty.  Time for the next one!

On Boston.

 

I am not certain how any of us can truly wrap our mind around what happened in Boston yesterday. I don’t want to highlight this specifically with the effect that it belittle some of the other tragic shootings of recent, but this one hits close to home for many of us.

I had to “turn off” my access to the news for a while today.  More and more photos show up, more and more videos go viral on twitter and more and more you replay how you were RIGHT THERE.  I didn’t let myself open up how vulnerable I felt even though I had no plans to attempt to run Boston in the past few years until I talked to Kendra about how we were RIGHT THERE.  Until several friends asked if I was in Boston and I was asking friends if their runners and spectators were safe. You remember how your were RIGHT THERE as a spectator, as a runner, how your friends and family were in that spot, how any day, that was any one of us.

So I to tune out the news, I went for a run afterwork.  I wore my Boston jacket, which still is “THE jacket” and I saw four others running in Boston jackets or shirts.  Then I let myself feel grateful and lucky, that we can still go for a run.  That for the most part this country is in good enough shape that for these events are still safe, that our neighborhoods are still safe, and that dirty bombs in popular neighborhoods, events and crowded streets are not a part of our daily life.

Many thoughts and well wishes to those affected by the acts of horror at the Boston Marathon, may strength come your way.

Waihe’e Ridge Trail run – Maui

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Not being a winter person, I decided after my last winter in Colorado that I need to go somewhere sunny and warm this year.  I know, Colorado is sunny all year and not too cold, so I shouldn’t complain, but I do anyway.  A few days after a backcountry ski trip to a yurt where the temperature dropped to -20 F (Zimms, I’m counting on you to write about that one), I flew to Maui with Toberer and met up with his mother, who was escaping rainy Oregon.  While I was plenty excited to lie on the beach, snorkel, and whale watch, I was also really looking forward to some warm, non-snow-covered trail runs.  So, we headed to the wet side of the island in search of trails, and found the Waihe’e Ridge Trail.

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The run began up a steep private road and then passed through some fields (maybe the first 1.5 mi?) before gaining the ridge.  Once we entered the forested, jungle-y ridge, the trail got very muddy and steep.  Almost un-runnably-muddy and steep, because the two combined together meant every step forward slid half a step back.  From my experience, this is pretty standard for Hawaiian trails anytime of year, and is just part of the fun.  But I did find myself thinking of how similar it felt to running in the ice and snow at home, and wondering if screw shoes would help…

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Despite the slow pace, we made upward progress through several different types of microclimates relatively quickly, through open fields and jungles with roots everywhere and ridgelines, past waterfalls, steep, forested cliffs, eucalyptus groves, and even some evergreen-looking trees.IMG_0542

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In some areas, it wasn’t clear from above that there was even a trail there.

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At one point, we were above the helicopters giving people aerial tours of the valleys below.IMG_0547

As we ran up, the mist moved in, making us glad we had gotten an early start to enjoy the views.  By the time we were back at the car, most everything above us was shrouded in fog, and the rest of the tourists had begun hiking up.  I wonder if they realized what they were missing.IMG_0548

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We looked back down at Maui and the trail below, its sugarcane fields, beaches, and waves far below.

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We hit the top and headed back down the slippery trail.  The way down took almost as long as the way up, and there were a few moments of mud skiing, but no complete falls.  I enviously looked on as a hiker made his way up with trekking poles.  Next time!

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All in all, a perfect way to spend a winter morning.

Strava route here.